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Exclusive: Health Education England plans academy for advanced clinical practitioners

Academy plan forms part of a wider bid to standardise training for advanced practitioners

A national academy could be set up to help set national standards for nurses training to be advanced clinical practitioners in England, a report reveals today.


Picture: Nathan Clarke

The body could also establish standardised routes into advanced clinical practice (ACP) and accredit programmes for nurses with specific specialist clinical skills that allow them to manage complex care needs.

Health Education England (HEE) has asked universities, employers and healthcare professionals to work together to develop the national advanced clinical practice academy.

Its plans are detailed in a report from the Council of Deans of Health (CoDH) on advanced clinical practice education, released ahead of Health Education England's conference on advanced clinical practice to be held this week (15 November). 

Consistency

Advanced clinical practitioners are regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, but the title of advanced clinical practitioner is still not protected and titles vary across organisations.

The academy could set and maintain standards by working with organisations such as the RCN, which has its own advanced practice accreditation scheme. It could also keep a directory of advanced practitioners.

The CoDH report warns that creating an academy will ‘undoubtedly be challenging’ and that HEE has been clear it is unlikely to work without widespread engagement.

CoDH workforce lead Ruth Taylor said: ‘CoDH and HEE have started a national conversation aiming to lead to coherence and consistency across the sector.

‘Adequate investment and timely notice of commissions of ACP course places from employers is going to be crucial for higher education institutions so they can respond.’

 Assuring patient safety

RCN head of nursing practice Wendy Preston said the college welcomed the creation of an academy.

 'As the professional body for nursing, we have set the standards for advanced nursing practice and have co-produced the Health Education England Advanced Clinical Practice Framework alongside other professional bodies.

'Standardising advanced clinical practice in England is an important part of assuring patient safety, and education is pivotal to this. The Council of Deans bringing together key stakeholders was an important step and has resulted in a comprehensive report, and we fully support its recommendations.'

ACP apprenticeships

The CoDH project coincides with the introduction of an ACP apprenticeship in England that was approved in April this year.

Apprentices, which will include nurses and other professions, must complete a master’s degree in advanced clinical practice and the first courses are due to start in 2019.

The report identified a number of challenges facing ACP education in England including ensuring that practitioners have the specialist competencies relevant to their professional setting and role.

An HEE spokesperson said: 'HEE is working with various partners across the system to coproduce the most effective educational support to scaling ACP across England. This is currently referred to as the 'academy'.'


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